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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Sugar Land and Missouri City, Texas, USA

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Sugar Land and Missouri City, Texas, USA
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Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: Sugar Land
Posts: 1
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My name is Zach. I am a senior at John Foster Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas.
Sugar Land is a rapidly developing suburban area near Houston. There are many roads, highways, shopping centers, and housing developments; however, there are also a lot of parks, and there is a creek running through it.
For my Boy Scout Eagle Project and Hornaday Project (scouting’s highest environmental award), I collected used cell phones, ink cartridges, and other electronic devices which are very harmful to the environment when improperly disposed of. These items were collected door-to-door in local neighborhoods and in local stores and businesses. I then turned these items in to various recycling companies who disposed of them properly and gave me money for each item. I then donated this money to a local hospital. Before I started the collection, I needed to let people know why throwing these items away was bad and where and when they could turn these items in. In order to do this, I arranged for an editorial to be written in a local paper, the Fort Bend Sun; gave a presentations at three services at Christ United Methodist Church; where I set up a collection box; and gave a speech at the “Missouri City” City Council Meeting. This meeting was televised and streamed to the internet, which allowed a wider population base to become educated on this method of controlling pollution. There were two portions of the project: a passive, constant collection and an active collection. The passive collection lasted about two months. Throughout the two months, people placed items in boxes that were set up in two schools and a church. This required the cooperation of these organizations. The active portion of the collection consisted of two neighborhood pick-ups and two days in which volunteers stood in front of a local Kroger’s to collect items. For the first neighborhood pick-up, the Scouts in my Troop, Troop 1852, along with students from my school, went around to approximately 2,000 homes in Quail Valley and tied plastic bags with a flyer on the door of every house. Later that week, we went around and picked up the items that people had left out. This process was repeated in the neighborhood of Plantation Bend, although family and friends helped instead of my Scout Troop. We stood in front of Kroger’s on two separate days for about four hours to collect items; family and friends helped one day, and Scouts helped the other. Once all portions of the collection were over, I spent the next month sorting, recording, and mailing off all of the items to the various recycling companies I was using.
This project is important because we need to take care of the environment in order for it to continue to remain suitable for habitation for us, for future generations of humans, and for the other inhabitants of this planet. Used cell phones and analog phones (along with batteries, chargers, and other accessories), ink cartridges, laserjet cartridges, toner cartridges, and other small electronic devices such as pagers, PDAs, mp3 players, and iPods are very harmful to the environment. Over 130 million phones are thrown away annually in the US. Also, over 300 million ink cartridges are dumped into landfills each year. Not only does this waste natural resources, it also pollutes the environment. Cell phones contain many toxic substances, such as arsenic, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc. When thrown away, the toxic pollutants in a phone are slowly released and leach into rivers, lakes, streams, the oceans, and groundwater. In fact, one cell phone can pollute 158,000 gallons of water, which is equivalent to over 6 average-sized swimming pools full of water (the average pool holds 25,000 gallons). Also, ink cartridges take 450 years to decompose. This pollutes our drinking water and some of the pollutants are fatal in certain concentrations. Also, the pollutants can harm plants and animals by poisoning them, or by changing the pH of the water. This makes it hard for fish and water plants to survive. By recycling cell phones, we can help save the environment and improve the quality of our water.
Throughout the collection, over 3,000 items were collected, including almost 400 cell phones, over 400 cell phone chargers, three printers, over 1,000 used batteries, almost 300 toner cartridges, almost 500 ink cartridges, and almost 500 miscellaneous small electronics and other items. The number of cell phones collected prevented about 75,129,000 gallons of water from being polluted, which is equivalent to over 3,000 swimming pools full of water. In addition to reducing the pollution of our soil and our water supply, over 3,000 pounds of waste were diverted from local landfills. I also received over $1,200 for these items from the recycling companies, which I then presented to the head of the Child Life Department at Texas Children’s Hospital. By reducing the amount of hazardous pollutants entering the local water system, the overall water quality for both humans and wildlife was improved. Also, the publicity that my project was given, in addition to the informational flyers that were placed on people’s doorsteps, helped to increase the general public’s awareness of their impact on the environment and what they can do to help preserve it.
Through the extensive research that I did for this project, I learned just how toxic to the environment many items that we use in our daily lives are. The entire community, including local plant and animal life, was affected by this project, as it prevented their environment from being further polluted. In carrying out the project, I had to quickly learn how to stay organized and how to coordinate large groups of people and organizations at once. About 75 people, other than myself, volunteered their time for the various collection dates, totaling about 425 hours plus 232 hours of my own time. I also had to learn to accept and work around the many problems that came up throughout the project. My two most memorable experiences from this project were giving my speech at the City Council meeting and giving my speeches at my Church. I have always had a fear of speaking in front of large groups of people, and in doing this project I was forced to overcome this fear several times; the speech I gave at the meeting was witnessed personally by about 30 people and broadcast on TV, and the speeches at my Church were witnessed by about three hundred people. I felt really good about doing this project when the Mayor of Missouri City, Mayor Owen, presented me with a signed Proclamation for Services to the City and a ceremonial Key to the City. Currently I am working on a presentation, which I will present to Sam Houston Area Council, hopefully to make this become a council-wide, and eventually, nation-wide Scouting program. I also hope to further my environmental work while in college by interfacing with university environmental programs.
Date: December 28, 2009 Views: 9626 File size: 20.3kb, 260.4kb : 2500 x 1875
Hours Volunteered: 657
Volunteers: 76
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 & 11 to 65
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 1365
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